My favorite television program is American Pickers. I enjoy watching Frank and Mike discover treasures hidden among the trash in people’s barns, storage sheds, and collections. These fellas are honest, too. They want to make a profit, but they are fair when they offer to purchase items. Most of what they acquire is American made and decades old.
The show resonates with me because I love discovering unique small businesses. Big box stores, chain stores, mega huge franchises, all bore me. There is a level of passion required to open a store that is not based on some corporate decision-making panel’s estimation of how to turn the greatest profit, but instead is dedicated to an entrepreneur’s dream.
If you’ve checked out the rest of my website, you know I have a fondness for rock shops. The dustier and more decrepit, the better. I don’t stop at rock shops, though.
Donna’s Brok’n Spoke Western Shop is one such establishment. Owned and operated by Donna Brock, the small Colorado Springs saddle store had been in business for fifty years. If you want to visit Brok’n Spoke, you’d better call ahead. It took me a couple weeks to finally connect with Donna. First the weather had her snowed in at her ranch, then her horses ran out of hay. But it was worth the wait.
If you prefer shelves of neatly arranged products and aisles free of clutter, don’t come here. The Brok’n Spoke is for the adventurous soul who likes the thrill of the hunt, and digging through dusty boxes and shelves loaded with possibilities.
Donna turned me loose in the store while she took a phone call. As I wandered around, inhaling the rich smell of leather, I realized I needed more time to dig through racks of vintage cowboy and cowgirl clothing, stacks upon stacks of straw and wool Western hats, and enough saddles and bridles to outfit the Ponderosa.
I found Roy Rogers greeting cards, a horse book for my horse-loving granddaughter, and bandanas for a project. Few items had price tags, and if there were barcodes, they were pointless, because there was no barcode reader. But the prices were phenomenal.
Donna got off the phone and helped me look for cowgirl boots. She found a black one I liked, but the mate was nowhere to be found. Then she found a brown pair in my size. Dig as she might, she could not find the other black boot, so I took the brown pair, and left my phone number in case the other black one turns up.
I found an awesome turquoise cowgirl hat that made my husband cringe when I wore it home. As I dug through the hats, I suspected some dusty specimens might be collectible. Unfortunately, I had a meeting to go to, and a limit on my budget. But I know I’ll be back. There was a leather coat and a black wool hat I need. And who knows? Maybe Donna will find that other black boot.
How about you? Do you have a favorite off-the-beaten-path shop that you prefer to the mainstream stores? Maybe a restaurant or coffee shop? A place where the experience of being there is as important as any purchase you may make. I'd love to hear about it!
Subscribe to this blog: